Reasons Why Your Customers Are Unsubscribing and What To Do About It

Have you ever wondered why your email subscribers are reducing when your email list seems to be flourishing and customers are loving and interacting with your content?

Here at CANDESCENT, we’ve got all the insights into why your customers may be unsubscribing from your email list. There’s a range of reasons why this might be, and it’s important to analyse why it’s happening before you can strategize about the next step; that is, preventing it from happening in the first place.

By the end of this blog post, you’ll know:

  • Why it is important to retain email subscribers,
  • Why people are unsubscribing from your emails and what you can do about it.



Email marketing is a fantastic tool to incorporate into your marketing strategy, and it’s worth your time and effort ensuring you retain your email subscribers.

The main reason for this is that your email subscribers can turn into customers. When someone subscribes to your email list, there’s a high chance they’re interested in what you are selling. This is your chance to prove they were right to place their trust in you, as you have a direct communication link to their inbox. By nurturing your relationship with them through providing quality email content, you’re increasing your chances of turning that subscriber into a consumer. It is vital, therefore, to maintain your email lists and reduce the possibility of losing subscribers, as the more subscribers you have the more likely it will be that you can grow your customer base.

Once customers have made a purchase from your business, email marketing becomes even more important; email marketing is not just about securing new customers, it’s about engaging with current customers. It is vital that you use email marketing to remind customers of why they chose you in the first place, and why they should continue to choose you in the future. There is a 60-70% chance of landing a sale with an existing customer, and returning customers spend 67% more than new customers. Using email to nurture your customers will encourage them to remain loyal to your business. 

So we know that retaining your email subscribers is important. But sometimes this doesn’t always work out as you planned, right? Let’s have a look at why…



There are a whole set of reasons as to why your customers may be unsubscribing. Here are 10 reasons why this might be happening:

  • Your email subjects are not on point.
  • Your emails are too frequent.
  • Your emails are inconsistent.
  • Your emails are not mobile-friendly.
  • Your emails are not visually appealing.
  • Your emails are unsegmented and therefore not relevant
  • The customer opted in for a one-time benefit.
  • Your emails are too sales focused.
  • Your email content is not engaging enough.
  • The customer signed up by accident.



The subject line is one of the most important things within your email marketing strategy, as it is one of the things that could make or break a customer’s perception of your emails.

The subject line is a good indicator of whether an email is a ‘spam’ email. A subject line that overuses exclamation marks, is formatted in all capitals, or is deceptive (for example, if you’re using “Re:” or “Fw:” for no other reason than to increase open rates) reduces the overall quality of your email and could be enough to encourage your customers to delete the email. If this is a regular occurrence over time, it may be the thing that’s provoking customers to unsubscribe from your email list altogether.


=> Solution: Create engaging subject lines that will intrigue and spark curiosity

It’s the first thing people see, so you’ve got to make it count. A great way to use your subject lines to their greatest effect is to make them catchy, though not unnerving or spam-like.

Try something like ‘You’ll never guess what I ate last week…’ or ‘Want to know how I started my business?’ to grab people’s attention, without worrying them that the email might be spam or a deceptive email.

Making a good first impression with your subject line is vital for not only ensuring customers open your emails, but also for ensuring they do not automatically unsubscribe at the first hurdle.



Consistent communication is important, but sending too many emails can become annoying, irritating and overwhelming for your customers. When they receive more emails than they need or initially expected when you signed up to the email list, they’re more than likely to unsubscribe as they don’t want your inbox to be clogged up with too many emails from you.

Another risk with an unnecessarily high email frequency is that your content may become too similar across your sequence, so that you’re repeating yourself or sharing the same information in multiple emails. This, combined with too many emails, will mean the customer is likely to become bored of your emails and subsequently unsubscribe.


=> Solution: Find a balance between frequent and reasonable

When you create your content calendar and begin to schedule your email sequence, think about whether you’re going to overwhelm your audience with the amount of emails you’re planning to send. It’s better to space your content out so your emails are welcomed, rather than resented.

You could also indicate your email frequency in the opt-in form when people submit their emails. For example, if you’re sending a newsletter every week, be fully transparent about this before they sign up so they know what to expect and they can measure whether your email newsletter is something they want to receive every week.



The opposite problem to too many emails is not enough emails. Whilst too many emails is irritating, too few emails gives off the impression that you’re not totally invested in your customers and are not fully committed to communicating with them via email. Being sent an email once every blue moon suggests sending emails to your customers is not high on your priority list, and could be contributing to decreasing subscriber counts.


=> Solution: Invest time and effort in your email sequence

For your customers to stay loyal and committed to your brand, make sure they feel valued and included in your business’ community. This can be achieved through creating a coherent email calendar that allows you to plan in advance when you’ll be sending the emails and measure whether you’re sending too few emails across a period of time. 

Perhaps the inconsistency of your emails is due to the fact you have less time than you need to fully commit to providing quality email content. The good news is that your emails can be automated in advance of being sent, so that your email sequences work independently without manual action from you. This makes it a highly effective means of communicating with your audience – schedule in advance, and show your audience that you are committed to them with regular emails.



Often when designing your email template, it may be the case that you’re only concerned with how they appear on desktop, but you’re not necessarily thinking about how they will look on a mobile phone.

This can be a huge problem. 85% of users use smartphones to access email, so if your emails are not mobile-friendly, you may be discouraging customers from sticking around, which could be influencing your subscriber rates.


=> Solution: Create an email sequence that looks good on all devices

Think about how you can modify your emails so that they work for both mobile and desktop. How does the email appear horizontally and vertically? Is the font size making the text unreadable? Do the images dominate the screen?

It is not only the design and functionality elements you could think about, but additionally how you can use the tools available to make your emails more efficient and more engaging. This might include making use of the preheader text, which is allocated more room than subject lines on mobile inboxes. Give your readers the most important information in the preheader text to show you mean business.



Zooming out from the mobile-friendly issue, another problem you may be encountering is that your emails are not visually attractive in general.

Customers are drawn to emails that are visually appealing – this includes a consistent colour chart, an attractive font, how the email is laid out and the information is presented, and the general vibe of the email.

This also applies to the functionality of your emails. If the ‘call to action’ buttons don’t work, the scroll down experience is clunky, or the images don’t load, the general impression you’re setting through your emails is not as polished as you would perhaps like.

If the quality of your emails is low, the visual content is not engaging or unique, the email is cluttered or the overall presentation says ‘I ran out of time’ rather than ‘I put a significant amount of effort into this email’, your customers may think they aren’t worth hanging around for, so they decide to unsubscribe.


=> Solution: Spend time perfecting the look of your email

Put yourself in the shoes of your consumer: what sort of email would catch your eye? What kind of design would make you want to read on? This is the perfect place to start.

Think about how you can make your emails look professional. Consider the colour palette you’d like to use (without incorporating lots of different tones and shades), and make sure this runs throughout the email sequence as a whole. Choose your images and visual material carefully. Does it link to the content of your email? Does it showcase your business in the best way?

Once the overall design of the email is ready, get down to the nitty gritty. Do you want to add some animations to your email to grab customer attention and add a bit of fun, or are you going for a more minimalist vibe? Do you want a footer with all your important contact and social media information on? Are all the buttons correctly linked to the right webpages?

The most important question you need to ask yourself is: does this email represent me and my business in the best light? If the answer is yes, then you’ve got yourself a winning email template!

Once you have the template, the hard work is done. All you need to do is fill in the gaps every time you want to send the email. Using the same design each time is not only efficient for you – it will also boost brand recognition, so your customers know exactly who’s emailed them when they see your email.



Imagine you have a pet dog, and you decide to sign up to receive emails from a pet company. Being sent an email about cat food when you’ve only ever bought dog food and you don’t even have a cat is irritating. Why? Because it seems as though your needs as a customer are not being fully recognised.

74% of consumers become frustrated when they receive content that does not align with their interests. This means that sending emails with irrelevant content that does not resonate with your customer is likely to push the customer towards unsubscribing, as an inbox full of irrelevant emails is irritating.

Part of the problem is that, in this case, the pet company has not segmented their email sequence. You have the ability to segment your emails once you have a good idea of what your customer has an interest in, and can tailor your email sequence to this end. If your emails are not segmented, you’ll continue to send generic information to all your email subscribers, many of whom will be interested in different products/services. This all contributes to losing email subscribers.


=> Solution: Segment and personalise your email sequence

It is clear that customers are much more likely to engage with content that means something to them. This is where segmentation comes into the picture. Take a look at their search or purchase history, and categorize your audience by the aspects of your business they seem to engage with the most. Sending bespoke emails that reflect the specific customer will ensure your emails stay relevant to the individual, and they’re more likely to stay engaged in the future.

You can also add a touch of personalisation by adding the customer’s name in the subject line and addressing the email to them. It’s the little things that go a long way, so make your customer feel special by investing a little more time into ensuring your emails are hitting the right note with all your subscribers.



You may be using lead magnets such as ‘Sign up for 50% off your first order!’ to entice your audience to give you their email addresses. These are super effective for encouraging your audience to sign up, and hopefully they’ll stick around for more. In some cases, however, the customer may just have signed up for the one time offer, and won’t be using your business again. This means they’re likely to subscribe once they’ve taken advantage of the benefit.


=> Solution: Keep them wanting more!

You can use this peak of interest to your advantage – strike whilst the iron is hot, as they say, and show them why they should stick around. This will be achieved when you segment your email sequences, as showing the customer what they’re most interested in will contribute to maintaining their interest in your business so they don’t unsubscribe. Nurture your relationship with them before they unsubscribe, and you’ll hopefully convince them to stay for a little while longer (or forever!).



Bombarding your customers with countless sales pitches via email implies you’re using emails for that end alone, rather than to communicate unique, valuable and relevant information to your customers. If customers feel as though they’re being sold to all the time, they’re likely to get bored of the constant chain of promotional emails and may be more inclined to unsubscribe.


=> Solution: Find a balance between promotional and personal

Try adding a touch of personality to your emails, such as through offering an insight into your business or chatting about when you began your business journey. This will help reduce the ‘salesy’ quality of your emails, and simultaneously show that your emails are a place where your customers can find quality information rather than implying you use them only for boosting your sales.



Your content is segmented. Your emails are regular but not annoyingly regular. But people are still unsubscribing. Why?

It may be that the content you are providing your customers is just not hitting the mark. This might be a design problem, as has been outlined above, or it could be that you’re including too much information that people have to read through. Alternatively, it could be that the way you are presenting the information is just not engaging enough, or what you’re actually saying is not grabbing your reader enough for them to stick around and read on.

When people receive an email that does not excite or entice them to find out more, they’re likely to click off it. If this happens repeatedly, they’re likely to unsubscribe all together.


=> Solution: Rethink your content so that it amazes your customers

This might be a good time to analyse how your email sequence is performing so far. What content achieves the highest engagement rates? After which type of emails do you lose subscribers? Have a look at how your emails are performing, and locate what is working and what isn’t. This will show you where you need to put your email energies.

From this, you can decide what kind of content you want to perfect. Think about adding a ‘storytelling’ element to your emails; this relates to the process of making your emails less ‘sales’ focused, as your content feels more unique to you as an individual. Giving your content a bit of a revamp will help maintain customer engagement, and you’ll see the rewards in the long term when subscriber counts are only increasing!

For more, read our blog on how to write a newsletter people actually read. 



The reasons above are all things you can remedy yourself by changing the way you’re using email marketing.

However, sometimes, customers unsubscribe as they never intended to sign up in the first place. It might be that you add people to your list once they have made a purchase, but they don’t necessarily want to be added.


=> Solution: Implement a double opt-in system

One way you could ensure the people who are subscribing to your email list definitely intend to do so is creating a double opt-in. The customer will have to enter their email on your site to subscribe, and they will also have to confirm they want to opt-in after you’ve sent them an email asking them to verify this.

This will mean the quality of your email subscribers improves, as the double opt-in system will filter out people who are not 100% committed to your business or don’t intend to subscribe in the first place. And, it’ll mean you won’t have to face increasing unsubscribe rates due to accidental subscriptions. 


Whilst there are many reasons why your customers could be unsubscribing, there are many ways you can resolve the problem!

We’d love to know whether you’ve been implementing any of these tips and tricks to ensure your unsubscribe rates remain low (and, hopefully, non existent!). Let us know by dropping us a message on our social media: @WeAreCandescent


Image Credits: © Brooke Cagle / © Cornflower Blue



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